This is an open letter to one of the guys that sexually assaulted me in high school…
You probably don’t even remember me, all this happened such a long time ago, 21years actually. Somebody’s whole path from birth to adulthood has occurred over those 21 years, yet in some respects it is as if time for me has stood still. 21. Coincidentally the same as the table number in the trendy city cafe I am sitting at as I write this.
I was only 12yrs old, you were just 13 yourself; and while I imagine you have long forgotten me, I will always remember you.You’re name has been coming up lately in my therapy sessions, as we delve deeper into my past and I try to come to terms with some of the events and triggers that have contributed to a lifetime of mental illness.
Your part in my mental unraveling was I suppose small over all and I can see that perhaps you were more of an accomplice, but still what happened that day has impacted me far more than I have ever cared to admit.
I wonder if you even remember how after years of bullying me about my weight suddenly one day you decided that you wanted to use me to expand your sexual repertoire.
You were friends with the boy I liked at the time, you lived down the road from him, the boy whom I trusted explicitly and had been sexually experimenting with for a while as young teens tend to do secretly, privately.
Turns out he had told you about us, bragged I suppose. It must have just sounded like a good opportunity for you. One day you and he agreed on a time and a place to ‘share’ me, you agreed upon this without my knowledge, without my consent.
When I found out what was supposed to be happening, just minutes before it was due to go ahead, I begged the boy I had previously trusted not to let it happen, I couldn’t understand why he was doing this to me, I thought he liked me for me, he knew I was frightened of you and now I felt like a piece of meat.
I also didn’t understand why you suddenly wanted this, I thought I was nothing but a big fat heffer to you, isn’t that what you used to call me? I had those disgusting “thunder thighs” you had so often reminded me about, the ones that stopped me from wearing shorts and skirts. But you didn’t seem at all phased by that now, instead you had a determined coldness in your eyes that petrified me.
My friend, the boy I had trusted, was upset with me for expressing my unwillingness to partake, he made me feel awful, he was the only boy that had ever showed me any interest and I was devastated that he was upset with me. “You have to do it, I told him you would” he had scolded me angrily.
I felt so guilty and so ashamed of hurting my boyfriend by being a ‘wuss’ that despite every fibre of my body screaming at me to stop, I still walked with him down the little cul de sac to your big house on the corner.
I was still too frightened to say no as he led me shaking upstairs to your bedroom. The world blurred out from around me as I watched you and him touching me as if it were from a distance, I felt so scared, confused and embarrassed, my fat disgusting pig body that you had always teased me for having was suddenly very exposed and here you were looking at it, it’s rolls of lard and stretch marks in its most vulnerable state, both of you.
All I wanted in that moment was to melt into the ground and die- that was the first time I remember dissociating- my memory from there is patchy at best, I know I somehow found the strength to get up and run out before you went much further, I remember that you were angry and my friend was really angry, I was humiliated, the bullies were right, you were right, I was nothing more than an ugly fat slut.
I googled your name tonight, I don’t know why. For twenty one years I had been trying so hard to block you from my memory. I had never even considered what might have become of you. It was a bad idea, to look you up, I don’t know what I was hoping to see, retribution perhaps, Karma?
It turns out you’re rich and famous now, a happily married CEO of a big company no less, Australian champion in your chosen sport too, a real up and comer.
It turns out, according to the ‘about’ section on your website that you were bullied too, your high school life was horrendous but you ‘beat the odds’ and broke away from the pain to become an ‘inspirational success story’, now you mentor people on how to live their best life. You.
I guess you didn’t know how to process the bullying you received back then and you were just passing on the hurt in the only way you knew how, but when you passed it on to me, I never was able to let go of it, I didn’t beat the odds the way you did, they beat me.
Most of the time if I’m honest, I forget about your existence. I don’t think about you, until sometimes when I make love to my husband that is, because even after all this time, your name and an image of that day tends to flash involuntary into my head at the exact moment I am supposed to be giving my entire focus to the man that loves me and cares for me with his whole heart; and while I do my best to shut it out, swallow that sense of fear and shame that washes over me, forget your face, think of something else, sometimes I just can’t.
You’re still there, in all the ways I cannot be intimate with my husband because the memories of that day are still too intense, too painful.
Perhaps my beef here is more with the friend who had betrayed my trust than with you, perhaps I need to recognise that your childhood had its own pain and you were just reacting in the only way you knew how to at the time, as a hurt pubescent teenage boy.
When I first read of your success last night, I wanted to scream and cry and punch things, a ball of hate welled up inside me with such viscousness that I scared myself. Why?! Why should you get to treat people that way and still go on to live your best life while I am stuck inside my head struggling to breathe?
But this morning, I am choosing to try and let go of the power this pain has over me, for the sake of my marriage and my mental health.
So in an effort to move forward, for the part you played that day and for your contribution to the relentless bullying of my youth, I want you to know that while I can never forget what happened, I do forgive you.